Releasing women and womanhood from the shackles of the male gaze with the eye that holds the camera
We grew up in a world where women’s bodies and entire beings were depicted on billboards, magazine covers, on our TV screens; everywhere in the media. Hardly any of it was soft. It was far from authentic. In addition, these depictions of women (were) harmful, not only to the people who looked like the sitters and shared similar experiences. They (were) also detrimental to all the eyes that saw these portrayals too.
Women’s bodies are everywhere.
There is never a lack in photographs that dictate what (or who) we should strive to look like. There are chants of ‘something is wrong, let us fix it with this’. We have heard, from a young age, voices that shout out derogatory names based on what the world finds flawed (about our appearances). In addition, we cannot count the number of times the world taught us to take what is masked as compliments for validations.
And we are tired of seeing ourselves everywhere in an inauthentic and sexually oppressive way.
We need photographs of our bodies, unclothed and clothes, from the cameras we hold behind the scenes.
We need the cloak of invisibility to be lifted off the shoulders of photographers who are women. And photographers are opening the doors to this liberation and visibility for us all.
Lifting the cloak of invisibility off the shoulders of photographer Juliet Kamanga
Johannesburg-based photographer Juliet Kamanga liberated womanhood from the oppressive male gaze on our bodies in her work titled Her Body. In addition, it is a series of photographs that looks at women’s bodies through the eyes of the women. Furthermore, Kamanga allows this to come through in how each fragment of the series tells the story of each woman. Every part of the story tells the story of Robyn’s body. In addition, it is a narration of what is a part of Nosicelo’s body. Moreover, it says something about Boipelo’s body as well as Didi’s body. The sitters are the narrators.
Something that is important that this work highlights, is how we do not share one eye in our view of womanhood. Evidently, in feminist discourse womanhood and the experiences of woman are not seen in a one-dimensional light. Therefore, in seeking liberation through photography, it is crucial that our bodies are seen through every women’s eyes.
Why? This is because you have different conversations with your body to the woman sitting next to you. In addition, the world treats different bodies in different ways. So, how then can we share one experience and only tell that part of our womanhood? How then can we share one eye and use that eye to see our bodies?
READ OUR PIECE ON EYEOFYINGA’S PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK THAT EXPLORES BROWN SKIN BEAUTY: http://sacreativenetwork.co.za/2021/04/skin-just-like-pearls-modern-brown-girl-a-hint-of-gold/
Kamanga forces us to look in the mirror and face our bodies. Additionally, Her Body allows us to sit down with ourselves and see who we are in our eyes to be able to lock the world out. In other words, to see other women using their voices to speak for their bodies and their womanhood inspires us to look inward and do the same. Moreover, in seeing women through the eyes of women, Kamanga removes the eyes of the dominant patriarchy that sees women as nothing more than irrational sexual objects.
Her work is important for the female gaze.
View her work here: https://www.instagram.com/jules_thee_artist/